Meet Pionero Philanthropy’s Team!

The Pionero Team is excited to share our experiences, how we got here and what our roles are in Pionero Philanthropy. Learn about a diverse group of young professionals passionate about Latin America and social justice.



Harriette Rothwell - Founder & Director

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She is originally from London, England and has been living and working in Latin America on and off since she was 20 years old. Harriette’s hobbies include reading, watching highly addictive TV shows, running regular 5 and 10ks and playing with her dog, Lola.

Harriette has worked her entire career in the Non-Profit sector and has 12 years experience and expertise in project and donor management in countries including Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico and Sierra Leone. Harriette has an MSc in NGOs and Development from the London School of Economics where she won the Loch Exhibition Prize for Achievement. Harriette also has a BSc in International Management and Modern Languages (Spanish) from Bath University.

Harriette is the Founder and Director of Pionero Philanthropy. Her role is to oversee operations and create strategies that will best achieve Pionero’s mission. Harriette is passionate about making a difference through connecting outstanding, lesser-known causes in Latin America with philanthropists who are looking to make a meaningful impact.


Isabela Lyrio - Guatemala Programs Coordinator


Isabela works as the Guatemala Programs Coordinator in Pionero Philanthropy. Her job is to work on outreach to local NGOs and to partner with Harriette developing Pionero’s evaluative criteria in order to create a database of high-impact, efficiently run NGOs that are eligible for funding.

She is originally from São Paulo, Brazil and has a BSc in Political Science and Sociology with a regional focus in Latin America at the George Washington University in Washington DC. Isabela studied abroad in Havana at the University of Havana School of Philosophy, Sociology and History and has traveled extensively within the Americas. During her studies Isabela worked with different facets of international development with NGOs, Think Tanks and Diplomatic Missions, this taught her the complexities and nuances of international development, prompting her to start her career in the Non-Profit sector immediately after graduating. Through her upbringing in Brazil, travels within the continent, and professional background, Isabela became passionate about serving marginalised communities in Latin America and working with NGO accountability, sustainability and transparency. She has been in Guatemala for almost two years working with social project management serving underprivileged indigenous populations in Lake Atitlan. In her free time Isabela likes to travel, cook, go on hikes and relax by Lake Atitlan with her friends.


Joe Gruber - Videographer


Joe is from New York, United States. He loves to cook, play soccer, mountain bike, and listen to music. He is passionate about film production and the work done behind the scenes. He also enjoys going to the movie theater, taking pictures, and making videos.

Joe graduated from Florida International University in Miami, Florida with a degree in International Relations. He spent 2 years of his academic career in San Marcos, Carazo, Nicaragua where he furthered my studies and perfected his Spanish. After finishing his degree in the United States, he went back to Nicaragua to work first as a volunteer and then as a Program Coordinator for a microfinance organization called People Helping People Global. Most recently he worked in New York City as an assistant director in film and commercial video production alongside his brother at Gruber Pictures.

Joe’s experience in Nicaragua over several years from volunteering to building reinforced houses, to studying in a local university, and to working in microfinance have made him want to come back again and again to Central America. He is very interested in international development and finds that Guatemala has many NGOs that could benefit from a creative platform to raise awareness for their respective causes.

Joe’s role in Pionero Philanthropy will be as the videographer and photographer. The purpose of which is to meet a variety of non-profits and create video content alongside photos of what they do and where they work in Guatemala.


Jeffrey Velásquez - Head Researcher


Jeffrey is from Guatemala City and currently studying Sociology at the University of San Carlos. In his free time he enjoys doing yoga, cooking, walking downtown and reading. While he is focusing his studies in Sociology, he has spent several months volunteering in France, Spain, Italy and Turkey and became interested in the studying the role of local actors in community development and social progress. He then spent 6 months working as a researcher with associations and co-ops of cocoa producers in northern Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, where he was able to learn more about the complexity of the international development sector. He believes that community leadership and engagement is essential for Latin America to reach a state of justice that brings a dignifying life to its people. Learning and researching more about local engagement and leadership in NGO work is what drives him to keep working in this sector and region.

Jeffrey’s role in Pionero Philanthropy consists of gathering information that can help explain why USA corporate and individual philanthropy can make an impact in Latin America. He works with different research projects and literature reviews used for internal analysis and outreach.


We are excited to be part of the Pionero Team and look forward to furthering our mission through our work in Guatemala! To learn more about what we do visit our website and email us with any questions.